~HOW TO MAKE LIQUID SAFFRON~
liquified saffron is essential to Persian cooking. You will use it in rice dishes, Khoresht and for deserts and even in your chai. It gives Persian food its unique and subtle flavour and sets it apart. I always keep my saffron in an airtight container in a dark cupboard to ensure its rich yellow colour and to avoid it loosing any of its strength of flavour. saffron is very expensive to buy so you want to take care of it. I personally only buy Persian saffron because I know its good quality and I’ll get the results and taste I want. Spanish saffron is widely available in the UK and I buy this only if I run out ( which almost never happens ).
- Take a really good pinch or of saffron and place it in a pestle and mortar, add a tiny pinch of sugar or salt ( use which ever will suit your recipe) and grind. I use a pestle and mortar but many people use small food processor and powder up bulk batches of saffron strands at a time .
- Place the ground or powdery saffron in cup and add a little boiling water and stir and then cover and allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes. The longer you leave it, the richer the color.
Once you’ve made liquid saffron you can keep it in the fridge for about 2-3 days, but remember to cover it with cling film or keep in an air tight container!
Fact: Saffron is said to help ward off mild depressive thinking. I dont know how true this is but just the colour alone makes you think of sunshine and that makes me smile :)
A Persian meal is always served with some fresh vegetables be it in a salad or a dish of sabzi khordan or both. Fresh vegetables are essential for vitamins and minerals which help prevent illness and have many other benefits such as an aid to our digestive system, skin, hair and bones but salad’s can become a little boring unless you spice them up. A perfect way to add flavour is through the use of herbs.
One of my favorite herbs is mint and it makes for a perfect salad dressing. Mint is easy to grow and you can grow it all year around and it’s easily sourced in a dry form from any supermarket. This recipe below is one I use regularly and completely transforms even the most basic of salads into some something delicious.
- 4 desert spoons of olive oil
- 1 desert spoon of grape vinegar or apple vinegar ( these are gluten-free. Malt vinegar contains gluten)
- A teaspoon of fresh or dried mint finely chopped
- A teaspoon of fresh flat leaved parsley finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
5.Take the olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and whisk with a fork and then pour over the salad.
Nothing could be easier and you have yourself a tasty, zingy salad.
Nooshi joonet . Enjoy
If you ask anyone who has never eaten Persian food before they always imagine that it’s heavily spiced, a lot like Indian food! And then they’re always surprised to learn it isn’t!
Persian cooking is made with a delicate balance of sweet and sour, hot and cold and the flavours are subtle and memorable. Quite unlike most other middle eastern food, Persian cuisine has a flavour all of its own. Often we take a recipe and ‘Persianise’ it, like Spaghetti ! We add what we think it lacks to create a better balance, or a taste that we prefer.
The ingredients of Persian food are largely the same ingredients that food all over the world is made from and yet when we add spice to a recipe, it literally transforms it. In Persian cooking we use fruits, herbs, flowers and ground roots to create a delicate aroma and a rich flavour. Each spice has a purpose and is helpful in maintaining a healthy mind, body and soul.
Here I’ve put together a list of the spices used in Persian cooking. Food is always created with the intention of making a hot or cold meal and we use spices to help create healthy and delicious food.
- Persian advieh is a blend of 5 or more different spices. Although similar to Gharam Masala, the emphasise is less on a hot flavour. Advieh can be bought from Iranian (and Indian) grocery stores already made up but it’s great to make it yourself to your own individual taste. There are different blends of Advieh depending on what you’re cooking, where you come from in Iran and personal taste . There’s one for rice dishes, which tends to be more fragrant and is sprinkled on the rice just before serving, another for khoreshts, which would usually include limu amani and zaafaran and another for pickles which would consist of spicy and sour flavours. The first five on the list are the usual spices used but if you want a spicier flavour add black pepper and cloves. Anything goes really ! For an Advieh basic recipe use equal parts of the following, try using one teaspoon to start with.
- Cardamom seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Dried rose petals
- Star of Anise
- Limu amani
- Black pepper
- sesame seeds
Simply take your spices of choice, grind with a pestle and mortar and store in an airtight container in a cool dark cupboard.
Turmeric is such an under valued spice. We use it everyday in Persian cooking but forget all the magical healing qualities of this wonderful spice. It has a rich and vibrant colour and smells great but beyond that there are numerous health benefits.
Turmeric comes from the ginger family of plants. It’s often known as ‘poor man’s saffron’ because it’s less expensive than zafaran. It has a slightly earthy, bitter mustardy taste. The root is cultivated, dried and then powdered and that is what we end with in our supermarkets.
Here are just some of the healing benefits to gained from Turmeric:
1. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.
2. When combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.
3. Thought to be helpful in preventing lung cancer
4. May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to die
5. Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia.
6. Is a natural liver detoxifier.
7. Thought to be helpful in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease .
8. Thought tobe helpful in the prevention of many different forms of cancer.
9. It is a natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.
10. Has been helpful in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis
11. Is a natural painkiller.
12. May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.
13. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.
14. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
18. Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.
19. Speeds up wound healing
And here are a few quirky facts about turmeric that I came across! Bet you didn’t know these:
- A spoonful of turmeric added to the water in water-cooled radiators will stop leaks.
- Use turmeric to get rid of ants in your garden…. It might leave the garden a nice colour too!
- Turmeric paste is a home remedy for sunburn and it is also an ingredient in many commercial sunscreens.